Are you exactly where you want to be in life right now? Or could you have a better job? A better marriage? More money in the bank? More time to spend with your kids? What are some things that you’ve always dreamed you could do and what can you do about it now to make it happen? You know how to eat an elephant, right? One bite at a time.

Think of your long-term destination. The book, “Where Will You Be in 5 Years,” offers a helpful introspective experience of thinking through your personal mission statement and provides stories of those who went from nothing to greatness in five short years. The premise of the book is to get started today and not put anything off, particularly your dreams and how you want to live your life. Spend some time thinking through this. While it's not an easy exercise, it is a hugely beneficial one.

Now that you have somewhat of an idea of a long-term destination, start mapping it out in tiny steps. If you’re in New York and want to get to San Francisco, how do you get there? You map it. You look at the general direction you want to go and acknowledge that there are hundreds of ways to get there. Then you zoom in and pick a route.

Steps to creating a long-term plan and actually achieving it:

•Make a list of all your goals. Nothing is too small or too big. Think short term (six months to three years) and long term (lifelong).

•Think through your skills and strengths. I went through a phase that I like to call, “What should I do with my life?” in which I devoured every self help book and personal assessment quiz I could come up with. They were enormously helpful in my realizing what I am good at and what I abhor. It turns out that if I hated something and didn't do it well, I shouldn’t waste my time on it. Who knew? I encourage you to do some self exploration of strengths and talent themes through assessments such as the Strengthsfinder and DISC. This will be time and money well spent and give you a clearer picture of who you are and where you want to go in your life.

•Think through what needs to be done between now and then. Usually short term and longterm financial plans need to be factored into these life plans. That’s just how it goes. If you have a goal of retiring at 55, but you’re currently 30 with $25,000 unsecured debt (such as credit cards), you need to start out with debt elimination. In conjunction or as a next step, do you need a higher paying job? Do you have the college degree or technical training to help you obtain the job you want based on your strengths (i.e. where you’ll be the most successful)? If not, education and skills training goes on your short term plan along with debt elimination. You might only be able to take one class at a time or even wait to start classes until a certain percentage of the debt is gone. This will all be based on your individual circumstance. Don’t let the time frame discourage you. You’re mapping out a life destination and you won’t get there in a day. But, you will have a plan. Review that plan often. Print it, laminate it, and post it in a location where you see it every day. Don’t be discouraged by setbacks. Just keep at it.

•List your networks and contacts. Find a mentor. Is there someone in your life that you have admired from a distance or respected what they’ve been able to accomplish? Talk to them. Find out what inspires them and how they were able to achieve their accomplishments. This can be a pastor, family friend, colleague in a different department, etc. Try to find someone that you can ask for advice in various segments of your life. Do you have a friend that is motivated to reach some long-term goals as well? Check in regularly with that person and keep each other accountable.

•Revisit the life map periodically. Make adjustments to the plan as needed and as desired. It may be that your priorities shift a little bit and what you want out of life is slightly different as time goes on. That’s okay. There’s more than one way to get from New York to San Francisco.

Author's Bio: 

Shanna Goodman is the author of Dignity is a Renewable Resource. She is a lifelong goal setter, writer, reader, dreamer, doer, mom, blogger, and marketing professional. Not necessarily in that order. She blogs about the business of books at and will soon be blogging about the business of life at Dignity is a Renewable Resource chronicles Shanna's year spent outside of her comfort zone, doing one New Thing a month. The book is available at, and